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Title: Sphagnum mosses limit total carbon consumption during fire in Alaskan black spruce forests

Author: Shetler, G.; Turetsky, .R.; Kane, E.; Kasischke, E.;

Date: 2008

Source: Canadian Journal of Forestry Research. 38: 2328-2336

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The high water retention of hummock-forming Sphagnum species minimizes soil moisture fluctuations and might protect forest floor organic matter from burning during wildfire. We hypothesized that Sphagnum cover reduces overall forest floor organic matter consumption during wildfire compared with other ground-layer vegetation. We characterized variability in soil organic layer depth and organic matter stocks in two pairs of burned and unburned black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) stands in interior Alaska. In the unburned stands, microsites dominated by Sphagnum had more than twice as much soil organic matter/m2 as microsites dominated by feather moss and (or) lichens. Whereas 20 percent of soil organic matter was consumed during fire in microsites dominated by Sphagnum, 45 percent was consumed in microsites dominated by feather moss and (or) lichens.

Keywords: Sphagnum, fire, black spruce, carbon

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Shetler, G.; Turetsky, R.; Kane, E.; Kasischke, E. 2008. Sphagnum mosses limit total carbon consumption during fire in Alaskan black spruce forests. Canadian Journal of Forestry Research. 38: 2328-2336.

 


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